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Ella’s Story: “That’s when I started crying”

As I arrived at my bus stop several people (all women) were already standing there. There is another bus stop at the other side of the street, where a young man was standing.
As soon as he noticed me he started yelling all these derogatory things, he called me a dirty slut, said he was going to rape me, … I was really scared but he didn’t cross the street and I had to take my bus so I tried to completely ignore him. This went on for about 5 minutes, when his bus arrived and he left.
That’s when I started crying.

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Sarah’s Story: Learning from experiences

You don’t have a “HollaBack” in my city, Kathmandu, Nepal, but I think this story is important none-the-less. Even if it’s just to get it out of my own head and heart, and shared.

I’m really moved by what you do at HollaBack, and think it’s an incredibly important and smart movement. It’s great timing for me, as I just learned about this website today, and was harassed 2 days ago, with (I feel) little I can do about it here.

While walking down my dirt road, I was feeling more confident and attractive than usual here. It was warm outside and for the first time in months I was able to wear a long flowing skirt and a v-neck t-shirt. (Nothing revealing by any means)

I was only maybe 20 feet away from my house door, when a motorcyclist came speeding by. On his way past, he stuck out his hand, and grabbed my breast. He passed by so fast, I really had no defense against it. Even when I turned away to yell at him, I realized, I speak English, he most likely speaks Nepali, my words were of no use. :( If he had been going any slower I think I would have tried to push over his motorcycle. I was furious at his nerve, and the fact I was defenseless against it.

So, he went speeding away. It happened so unexpectedly I can barely remember what he looked like, much less felt there was anything I could do about it.

Since the incident, I’ve felt less safe in my own neighborhood. I think, “what if he lives near me?” “what if he sees me often and I’ve just never noticed him?” I don’t like this feeling of fear and lack of safety in the area in which I live.

I also feel like my fears aren’t helpful. What IS helpful is being aware of my surroundings, learning from my experiences, and sharing them with other women to move forward to fight against this sort of street harassment that happens every day.

Since hearing about HollaBack, I feel more comfortable discussing this with people in my neighborhood as well to keep from it happening again. Thanks HollaBack for giving me an outlet. :)

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Rene’s Story: Don’t throw your trash at me

Walking home from campus, early evening (5:00ish), I was approaching the intersection of 14th & Mass. A white Jimmy SUV full of boys slowed down and yelled “I’d tap that fat ass!” then threw a Sonic cup full of something (I hope to God it was water) at me, then sped off. Didn’t get a license plate number, but they had some kind of fraternity/Greek letters on the back windshield and a Jayhawk sticker (narrows it down, right? Ha).

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Rachel G.’s story: What gives them that right?

On top of being a full time student, I have a part time job at my university. On one Monday morning that had already been difficult for me, I was walking around a building on campus running errands for my boss when I walked by two guys sitting on a bench. I heard one of them make a noise that sounded like a dog barking but I assumed they were joking with each other and continued walking. A few minutes later, I walked by them again and heard the noise again, followed shortly after by a comment, of which I only caught the end… “I like her earrings though”. At this point, I realized, they were saying something about me. I was wearing particularly large and shiny earrings that day, one of my favorite pairs, and had received a few compliments, all of which had made me feel good. None of them had made me feel uncomfortable until I walked by those jackasses. At this point I went to the bathroom and attempted to waste a few minutes hoping they would go away but of course, they did not. Sure enough, when I walked by the third time, they made that noise twice and said something again, this time about my ass. Unfortunately, I was wearing my work uniform at the time so I had to resist the urge to turn around, flip them off, lecture them on respect and tell them to go fuck themselves which was extremely difficult for me. I almost never let those kinds of things go and I certainly never rely on anyone else to stand up for me, I believe that empowers the harasser. Instead, I marched into my boss’ office and told her what had happened. My boss then called someone higher up on the chain of command who came, spoke with me for a minute about what happened and then went to talk to the harassers. Even though they went away, I didn’t feel any better. What gives them the right to harass me at work? To put me in a position where I had to either stick up for myself and risk my job or to let it go? Who are they to cause me to have to go so very far against my morals and values? To make it so that I have to get a man to go and defend my honor instead? What the hell gives them that right?

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E.A.’s Story: “I holler back”

One afternoon this summer I was biking home from our local bike co-op when I pulled up to a red light next to one other vehicle. The light had just turned red when I stopped and almost instantaneously the windows of the car next to me rolled down and two men in the car began shouting at me. The driver was quietly saying sexual threats that I could hardly hear under a passenger yelling “I like your bike. Is it a nimbus 2000? Is it Lance Armstrong’s bike? You’re really cute.” It seemed harmless enough until I heard the driver shout “I want to put my dick in your helmet… I want to put my dick in your ass.” As soon as the light changed, I found an alternate way home to ensure that the car couldn’t follow me home. The whole time it was happening I was heartbroken that the woman in the front seat didn’t try to stop them from harassing me. I am a very femme-presenting man and I will not let ignorance keep me from living openly. I holler back.

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Megan’s Story: “He wanted me to be passive”

I was pumping gas when a group of teenage boys pulled up to the intersection. They rolled the windows down and one began yelling things – starting with “pump that gas, girl.” I looked up then turned to ignore him. He kept yelling, getting more suggestive but not explicit.

After months of walking to the bus to yells of “hey, girl” or horns being honked by anonymous drivers, I was fed up. So I flipped him off and yelled, “f**k you, come say it to my face, you little chickenshit.” And there was silence. Then I heard a weak, “that’s not very nice.” And they drove away.

I love his response. He wanted me to be passive, afraid, shamed, an object of his attention. My aggression set him back. I’m sure he won’t forget it soon. I wouldn’t recommend my method to anyone, but considering my audience and genuine willingness to fight it was fitting.

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Julia’s story: “I told him no multiple times”

I was baby sitting for my sister and brother in law while they went out to spend time with my brother in law’s brother who was in town. they came home after a night of partying and while every one else went to bed my brother in laws brother decided to get touchy. I told him no multiple times and he still continued to touch me, kiss me and grope me. He was drunk and wouldnt stop. i didnt sleep at all that night. I just want to find closer with this. it happened about 3 years ago. no charges were ever pressed(family said we would deal with it) I havent seen him since.

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Jordan’s Story: “I still feel good about what I did”

I am 19, and my best friend is 17. While we were picking up a few things at Wal-mart, we noticed three men who were following us around the store. I am a Wal-Mart employee, and Coffeyville is a small town, so I actually recognized the men who were following us because they had given myself and other female employees problems in the past. At first they were just making remarks at my friend and I, so we just ignored it. As we were checking out, the three men got behind my friend and I. At first we just ignored them, but as I was paying for our items, I noticed that the men were standing very close to my friend, and one of them was standing directly behind her, actually touching her with his body. I became very angry, and pushed the man away from my friend who did not know what to do, and then asked for the cashier to call for a manager so they could call the police, because the man was sexually harassing a minor. Unfortunately the three men actually ran out of the store. But even thought they got away, I still feel good about what I did.

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Erin’s Story: “I felt mortified and objectified”

I am so glad I found this space– this experience has left me with a very lonely and awful feeling all day. I am visiting New Orleans for a business convention, so I am required to wear business professional attire. Because I am short, I prefer to wear “skinny jeans” style dress pants because I look like I am swimming in wide leg pants. My clothing was form fitting because, plain simply ,that is more flattering on me and because I feel confident wearing that style.

While walking to lunch in the french quarter I was called to repeatedly by different men. At first it didn’t bother me because I took it as “southern charm,” but when I walked past a convince store in front of a group of men, they literally were screaming at me. One man even said that he “was horny.” I felt mortified and objectified. While I silently stormed away another group of men at the end of the street continued where they left off. Further down a man pulled his car over to ask “if he could walk me home” that night. I could not believe these men had the nerve to make me feel this way. I felt ashamed for the way I was dressed (even though I was completely business appropriate). I wish I had the nerve to say something, but I was honestly scared that I would just provoke them. I am trying not to let this experience taint my otherwise amazing time in New Orleans.

Thank you, Hollaback, for giving me an outlet to vent. These stories are hard to share.

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Beth’s Story: We’re all in this together

It happened so fast.

It happened before I could think.

But, it happened.

It was a little thing, I guess, in the scale of street harassment.

But it was big too, because every little act of disrespect and aggression adds up to something larger in a world where being a female out in public makes you sexual prey.

Which is why I wish I had done something to protect the women he might do this to in the future.

Cause most women don’t like to be sniffed in public. That’s right I said sniffed.

Yeah, SNIFFED. Like a dog.

Here’s how it happened, girlfriends.

I was standing outside a grocery store in another town when a man came up behind me, got as close as he could without touching me…..and sniffed me.

Yeah, SNIFFED me. Like a dog.

My back had been to the store, so I didn’t see the man until he walked around me and went to his car. He shot a creepy smile over his shoulder, letting me know that he knew exactly what he had done.

I stood glued to my spot on the sidewalk, stunned by the guy’s brazen disrespect in such a public place. I watched him get in his car, still smiling his creepy smile. I watched him drive away, laughing to himself. I was pissed, but mainly I counted myself lucky that it hadn’t been something worse. At least he hadn’t touched me, I thought. Or yelled something humiliating. He was just a sad, pathetic guy who got a cheap thrill from sniffing women in public places. I was unharmed and I could laugh about the story with my friends.

But the more I thought about the incident it didn’t make me laugh, it made me MAD! Not just mad at the creep, but mad at myself.

Mad at myself because I hadn’t done anything. I just let him drive away, not even because I was that scared, but mainly because I was being selfish.

I say selfish because in my reaction to this guy I was thinking only about myself. “I got out of it. I wasn’t hurt. I didn’t live in the city where it happened.” Those were my thoughts as I silently watched him drive away.

But really my thought process should have been more like this: “What if he does this to one of us again? What if he does something worse to someone else? We need to stick together.”

The “we” of course, is all women, because whether you believe in the concept of global sisterhood or not, we are all in this together when it comes to street harassment.

When you confront or report a street harasser, you’re doing it not just for yourself, but for the future women the harasser may target. Getting catcalled at a construction site? When you call in and complain you save not just yourself, but all the future women walking by that site from unjust humiliation. When you get harassed by someone in a car? Get the license plate number if you can and call the authorities. You may never see the harasser again but some other women will, and your call could be what gets the harasser pulled over and scared off that type of behavior.

And if you get sniffed?

Well, I’ve thought a lot about what I could have done in the situation. Like I said it happened very fast and I think the first thing you should think about in any confrontation is your own safety.

Thinking back I wish I had at least taken a picture of the guy and his license plate with my camera phone. I would have felt safe enough to do that and I could have turned the picture and a description of the event into the managers at the grocery store he’d been exiting and of course the local police.

Sniffing somebody is strange enough, but all I can think about is how my police officer relative later told me that behavior like that is usually a first step to guys trying to touch women (or do worse) to them out in public.

Could I have done something so that if this guy tries to do something worse to a woman some of his information would already be on file? Or has he already done something worse (and my gut told me he was a pretty serious creep), and turning in the pictures could have helped another woman find justice?

I don’t want to beat myself up asking too many questions. I can’t change how I responded to a past situation, but I can think about how I’ll act in the future. The next time I’m harassed I hope I think not just about myself but about all of us — all the women out there who just want to be out in public without feeling like a target.

And if I can do something to make the next women’s life a little safer I’ll feel like I’ve done my part.

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